Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Marriage and the importance of fending for yourself

"Do you ever have those moments when you think, 'Oh, so this is what marriage is like...'?"

My dad had asked while we were in the car, on our way to I-forget-where. I knew that he meant it in terms of discovering things about my husband M that I never knew before, where you substitute "marriage" to "he" so that the statement becomes "Oh, so this is what he's like, really." But I guess the thing about being together for almost nine years before you get hitched is that it's pretty hard to hide your true colors from each other for almost a decade.

No, the thing you discover about marriage is not so much about your partner, but about yourself.

And I have discovered a very important thing: I'm a 32-year-old with no life skills.

I say this after almost three weeks of living in our own place. I mean, I knew this about myself, of course, but just knowing I don't know how to cook becomes an entirely different deal when you're alone in the condo, hungry, and staring at a can of corned beef and not knowing what to do with it.

And it's not just the cooking. I don't know how to iron clothes. I don't know how to do the groceries. I don't know how to prepare a marinade, much less marinate the meat. I don't know how to clean the bathroom. It has become appalling to me how I've reached this age without knowing all these things.

I know it makes me look like some sort of sheltered, pampered princess. And I know that I probably should have made an effort to learn while I was still at home, before I got married. But there was something in me that just refused the idea of learning at home. I didn't want it to be some afternoon of "Oh, I'm not so busy today, I think I'll go learn how to iron a shirt" then I would go back to my "regular" life. And the truth is, I guess I just took it for granted that I had clean shirts and good food.

So right now, what I'm discovering about marriage is that it's a very humbling experience. Now I have to accept that I'm a beginner at everything. I learned to use our washing machine during our first week, so I've been able to do the laundry for us. My first attempt at ironing was a failure (meaning, the shirts were just slightly less wrinkled than when they got out of the dryer), but I figured out where I went wrong and tried again today. I did a much better job today.

I also learned how to cook hotdogs. M laughed when I told him I just followed the instructions on the packet, and his exact words were, "I never even knew there were instructions on the pack! You just put them there and cook them!" My first attempt was okay, but I think I undercooked them the second time I tried because they tasted slightly like paper (still edible, but weird enough for me to think that it didn't taste quite right). M told me, "Don't be afraid of overcooking or burning it. Be afraid of undercooking it." So then I learned to not be afraid of the sizzling, frying sounds and instead trust them as signs that I'm doing it right.

Marriage is a humbling experience because knowing that there's just the two of us now, we have to be able to take care of each other. And the reality is, M has been taking care of me for the past three weeks, largely by making sure I don't starve. But even if I wasn't around, he would survive. That wouldn't be true if the tables were turned. It's humbling to realize how much I need him, and how much I need to work so that we are on equal footing in this relationship, capable of both giving and receiving care.

It's also very humbling to realize that if you don't do it --whether it's cleaning the toilet, taking out the trash, or other equally icky jobs-- no one else will do it for you. So I can't just pick what I want to learn; I have to learn everything. More than once, I have thought to myself that this is probably what I would advise the young-and-single: either live by yourself or help out around the house more. Either way, you really do need to learn to be self-sufficient. I may be a little late in the game, but at least I'm learning now. Google has been especially helpful in this journey.

And so I celebrate the littlest achievements, the ones that people would probably roll their eyes at. Like buying a nice set of sheets at a bargain. Or cooking a cheese omelette successfully. Or figuring out just the right settings in our washing machine and the right ratio of liquid detergent to fabric softener. Because I know that each little achievement is a step to the bigger things. And someday soon, I'll get to the point where I can cook without reading a recipe and I'll be able to do more than just wash the dishes and vacuum the floor.

Someday soon, I'll be a 32-year-old that has the life skills needed not just to survive, but to thrive.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Piano

As I brushed my teeth this morning, I heard a piano play in the distance. It was my neighbor playing. It wasn't anything fancy; I knew it was a simple exercise just to start the day.

I smiled because I remembered myself so many years ago, when I couldn't let a day go by without touching those black and white keys. I would sit on the bench, touch the keys, and forget the world as I began to play.

My music teacher offered to give me lessons after school. I would let myself into the music room after hours, flex my fingers, then begin playing the latest challenging piece she threw at me. My fingers flew across the keys faster than I thought I could manage. My shoulders bore the effort of pounding on the keys as loudly as I could, then relaxed as I settled into the quiet notes that would end the piece. I would close my eyes to savor that last note, and when I opened my eyes, my teacher would be sitting at the farthest end of the room. "Again," she would say, and I would lose myself in the melody all over again.

It was years of putting in an hour every evening to practice exercises and long pieces, of struggling to learn new melodies and perfecting them, of losing and finding myself in the music.

Then life happened.

I entered college and found myself in a new world, new relationships, new interests. I busied myself with things like choir practice and org meetings, and the piano began to gather dust. Before I knew it, years had passed since I last touched the piano.

One day, I found myself staring at our piano. Untouched, unloved. Tentatively, I sat on the bench and found it uncomfortable. I touched the keys and thought the magic would simply come back to me. It didn't. I found myself clumsily trying to get through an exercise I used to know by heart. I tried to read the notes and play along, but my hands refused to catch up to the notes my brain knew how to play.

And I felt a deep shame come over me, as I knew that the same neighbors who would stop during their evening stroll to hear me play were the same neighbors who would now bear witness to my failure. The glory days were over, and I was too proud to start all over again.

I shut the piano with a bang, stood up, and hurried back to my room. I tried to forget how, a few minutes before the final bell would ring, I would shake my hands under my table to loosen them up for the coming lesson. I tried to forget that rush that came with playing a piece perfectly from beginning to end. Most of all, I tried to forget the heady feeling of knowing that I had the power to create something beautiful that I could contribute to the world, if only for a few minutes.

I had forgotten that gifts needed to be nurtured. Now I needed to forget that I had that gift at all, if only to avoid being eaten up by regret for all that could have been.

Eventually, my mom decided to sell the piano. I was moving to my own place and there was no room for it there. In a few years, my parents would be downsizing into a condo unit and there would be no place for it there either. An old couple bought it for their grandchild who was just starting lessons. I wasn't home when they took it. I didn't say goodbye.

As the final notes of my neighbor's piano played, I realized that in all the years that had passed, nothing ever quite came close to the passion I felt as I played then. I looked at my hands, the hands that no longer play, set them on the bathroom counter as they touched the black and white keys from memory, and closed my eyes to savor that last, perfect note with a smile.

Friday, October 2, 2015

What sticks

We hadn't seen each other in 15 years, but we all hugged like the old friends we've always been. M introduced us to her colleague saying, "I wouldn't have graduated high school if not for these two."

Later, after reminiscing about how C and I had rallied M to copy from us and study our notes just so she could pass, M told us how she enrolled in culinary school and graduated with third honors. "Naisip ko talaga, siguro proud kayo sa akin ngayon," she told us wistfully.

More than being proud of my friend, what she said got me thinking about just how much of an impact we can make in someone's life. Not having the right size of paper for a surprise quiz or a long test never became her excuse because I, a walking office supplies store, gave her paper and lent her ballpens too. C photocopied all her notes and turned them into handouts for exams. Together, we came up with codes, gestures, and special ways of sitting in our chairs that would make it easier for M to copy off us. I wonder if our teachers ever knew, and if they did, if they let it slide because they knew we just wanted our friend to graduate with us. And graduate, she did.

We always like to PM each other random things, but when B sent me this screencap of a post by my ex, it really got me thinking. Forget that he's my ex-- what he said about "teaching me to be neat" never happened. I mean, I never actively and consciously taught him anything. This whole business of using a ruler when I highlight passages was just the way I studied then. I never encouraged him to follow suit, or drop subtle hints by giving him a ruler and a highlighter. I just did my own thing. And now, 10 years after we had broken up and now that I'm happily married, I find that my little quirk had stayed with him.

It made me realize that we never really know how we affect people with the things we actively do for them, and the things we do without realizing that they're watching and taking notes. And sometimes, you never even get the opportunity to find out what impact you've made in life. So all you can do is try to be positive, be kind, be good, and hope that somehow you touched someone's life for the better.

The operative word is TRY. The truth is, deep down inside, all the trying can be exhausting. It is so tiring to be good. It's so draining to always be understanding. It's so difficult to keep that positive spirit burning, especially when things don't seem to be working out as they should. It is an immense pressure to be everything for everyone all the time that sometimes you just want to run away from it all. Or break down in a coffee shop. Or throw things. Whichever works at the moment.

How do you get out of that dark place and keep trying? You think of the moments that have stuck with you, the things that others have done for you and have stayed in your heart without them ever knowing. The impromptu slow dance. That hug right when you needed it. The meme that was sent to you at a time you didn't think you could laugh. The people who matter. The dreams you build together. The memories you've yet to share.

And so you take a deep breath, dry your eyes, and walk out of the coffee shop or whatever retreat you've made for yourself, armed with a new resolve to keep trying.

Be kind. Be good. You may fail some days, but just get up and try again tomorrow. You never know whose life you touch by just trying every day to be kind, be good.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Married life, in bullets

So far, marriage has been about...

- towel stealing
- tickle torture
- 24/7 exposure to farts, burps, no makeup look, messy hair, and ratty pambahay
- front-row seats to tantrums and meltdowns
- waking up with a start in the wee hours of the morning to freezing-cold feet pressing against your leg
- being at work very early in the morning or until late at night, depending on the other's work schedule
- not seeing other friends as often as before since you now have someone else's schedule to consider

Then again,

Marriage has also been about...
- laughing at stupid YouTube videos together
- 24/7 access to hugs, kisses, back rubs,  and reassurances that everything will be okay
- being told that you're beautiful/handsome even if you're in ratty pambahay, your hair is a mess, and you've yet to shower
- having someone that waits for you to come home
- falling asleep to the sound of their breathing
- not minding the other person's snoring because it somehow lulls you to sleep, and at least you're sure they're still breathing
- waking up in the middle of the night to put a blanket over the other person, then get pulled into a hug while they're still asleep
- knowing that you've married your best friend
- building a home together
- dreaming together

The good outweighs the "bad", always. ❤️

Sunday, March 8, 2015

What people don't tell you about being married

"So, kumusta ang buhay may-asawa?"

After being married for all of 36 days, I still don't know how to answer this. For now, I resort to "Eto, parang nagbabahay-bahayan lang!" But in truth, it's because I don't know how to explain it.

That everything is still the same as it had been before we got married. He still instinctively holds out his hand while we're walking, with complete faith and trust that I will be there to take it. He still says, right after parking the car, "Kasya ka ba dyan?" as if to imply that I am anything but sexy, because he knows that I will look at him indignantly with my signature pout-- and I do. He still can't make up his mind if he wants to go to the gym, sleep, have dinner out, or stay home, because he wants to do all of the above all at the same time-- and I end up giving him the pros and cons of each until he finally makes up his mind.

It is still the same.

And yet everything is different too. While we're still living in my parents' house and we have only one car, I find myself waking up at 3:30AM so that I can be ready to leave the house with him at 4:45AM, in time for his 6AM shift. And on the days when I don't have to head to the office, I'm still woken up to the sound of him getting ready, and I'm half-awake as he kisses me goodbye before leaving. I never had this before we were married, but now my mornings seem incomplete without it.

It's different because my room used to be my own space. I was comfortable with my own kalat. But now it is his space too, and I find myself clearing the closet, cleaning a corner, cleaning and clearing to make space for him. I find myself thinking of ways to make it a more restful space for both of us, because now I have front-row seats to how tired he really is after work.

It's different because now, we don't have to send links to each other through Viber. We can just watch them together and laugh until our stomachs ache together. We don't have to schedule conversations because we can just look at each other and say whatever is on our minds, right then and there. While I do miss the Viber emoticons, there's nothing like the real thing too.

Everything is different, and yet it's all the same.

Today at Mass, I looked at him and realized: this is our life. This has been our life for the past nine years (36 days of which we've spend married), and we've got a long way to go. Many more years of teasing each other, random conversations, shared meals, sitting in traffic together, and all of the other mundane activities that make up everyday life. This is it. This is our life.

And I wouldn't have it any other way. :)

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Dream, don't plan.

I used to have many plans for my life. As early as sixth grade, I had planned to take up Journalism in UP then take up Law to follow in my dad's footsteps. In high school, the plan changed to taking up Broadcast Communications. In college, the plan changed to getting into Summit Media and working in magazines.

The thing with all those plans is that they didn't happen as I thought they would. I decided not to pursue law (it actually never really crossed my mind all throughout college), and when I did get into Summit, I ended up in PR, which I never really imagined myself getting into.

So I spent a couple of years floating around, wondering what had become of my plans. I was in PR and seemed to be doing okay, but when I tried to imagine what I wanted my life to be in the next few years, I couldn't see myself hob-nobbing with the country's top editors and establishing myself as a well-connected PR practitioner. I always thought of taking further studies, but could never figure out what I wanted to study further. I thought of teaching, but could never see myself authoritatively and convincingly leading a roomful of students that saw the teacher as the enemy. The trouble with my plans is I had no idea what to do when they didn't work out.

It was only recently that I realized-- I had been so busy trying to plan my life that I had forgotten to dream. Or maybe it wasn't so much that I'd forgotten, but more of I had been afraid to dream because what if I couldn't make it come true?

But in the smallest ways that I had dared to dream --I dreamt of touching people's lives and making a difference through my words, I dreamed a silly dream of writing or editing Tagalog romance novels-- the Universe found ways to turn them into a reality. There were no plans here, no end goal, no measure of success. Just an openness to opportunity, lots of courage to take a leap of faith, and prayers that everything would work out okay. And they did, more than I could ever dream they would.

It's more difficult than people think, to learn how to dream. Especially when you're someone like me who's so used to coming up with a step-by-step process and working towards specific outcomes. They can even become easily interchangeable, plans and dreams. But I'm realizing that it's the dream that anchors the plans. When the plans don't go as they should, the dream remains the same. In my life, I had lots of plans, but no real dreams. So when the plans changed, I felt lost and unsure of what to do, who to be, next. Dreams are the heart of any life plan, and I'm only allowing myself to start dreaming now.

Luckily, I'm marrying a dreamer who is able to clearly envision even the car that we'll be driving in 10 years, down to the color. It inspires me to make little dreams of my own, for us, and for me.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Four months to go!

As of today, we have four months to go before The Day! Considering that one of those months is December and it goes by very quickly because of the holidays, we only really have three months left to finish everything.

I may not be the kind of girl that's been dreaming of her wedding since kindergarten, but I started this process with some wishes in mind. One of those was that we would be able to have a wedding in which people close to us played a special role. But once we started planning, I changed my mind a little and thought that it might be awkward to have friends working on that special day.

One year into planning everything, and I see God's hand in making that wish come true in some ways. One of my good friends designed the invitation as her wedding gift to us, and everytime I show it to people, they all exclaim, "It's so you!" I'm not sure I would have had the same reaction if I had the invitation designed by someone who did not know me very well.

My wedding gown will be done by my tita, who owns a dress shop. A good friend from high school will be doing my makeup, a friend that I met from my PR days will be hosting our wedding, and one of M's friends from work will be putting his events background to good use by acting as our on-the-day coordinator. Then, when I was looking for a photobooth, I was led to one that turned out to be owned by an orgmate from college. The flowers for the entourage will be done by a very good friend of my tita. It's amazing how small the world has proven to be, and how God surrounded us with the right people at the right time.

I've heard of brides that go into this thinking "This is MY day." But I've always begged to differ. It's not a day where I get everything I want and everyone has to do my bidding. I've always seen this wedding as a day where we can celebrate with family and friends, and everybody is happy. It's precisely why we chose a summery theme with happy colors.

Most importantly, this is OUR day-- every step of the way, M has been involved, sharing his opinions, giving his go signal. Even when he tells me I have free reign, I still run things by him. I'd like to think that this will also be the dynamic for our marriage.

To be honest, we are more excited about what happens after the wedding. So really, we are not just counting down to our wedding day, but to the beginning of the rest of our lives. The wedding is just one day. We're excited for forever. :)

Sunday, July 27, 2014

On doing what you love and loving what you do

This morning, while I was in the shower (home of all great ideas and deep thoughts), I found myself thinking of the work I need to do later, and how blessed I am to be making a living out of writing, reading, and editing. I remember that my childhood ambition was to be a librarian, because I thought it meant I'd have all the time in the world to read all the books I want. Even when I was already working and would seek solace in a good book, I'd find myself thinking, "Wouldn't it be great if I could just read books all day and still get paid?" But I had always been afraid of turning that wishful thinking into reality because I thought that getting paid to read or write would diminish my love for it. But the Universe has its way of working things out, and here I am, doing what I love.

And yet, many say that this is actually bad career advice. It leads to discontented spirits who flit from one job to the other, thinking to themselves, "This isn't what I love to do, so this isn't for me." It's almost like being in a relationship (and how many times have I likened a career to a relationship), where you keep finding flaws in the person you're with and concluding that he's not The One. And so you move on to the next, and to the next, and to the next, convinced that The One person or job is just out there, waiting for you, and you'll live happily ever after. It sounds romantic and idealistic, but in reality, all you get is a resume that shows you can't hold down a job and you can't figure out what you want, or the realization that you've been labelled a commitment-phobe. Hardly the characteristic that will attract an employer looking for someone with a sense of loyalty to a company, or someone who's willing to grow with a company for a substantial amount of time before moving on to the next. Even with relationships, it's difficult to grow and move forward when you're too worried about whether or not this person will leave you at the first sign of struggle.

I also read an article before that pointed out that only a select few can financially afford to follow this career advice. Really, how many times have I taken a look around my place of work, zeroed in on certain individuals, and thought to myself, "This person obviously does not need to work for a living, so this really must be his/her passion." But now that I'm in this situation, I'm realizing that this is not true at all. I'm doing what I love, but I'm hardly swimming in money. On the contrary, I find that I have to work twice, three times as hard just to make what I used to when I had a regular job.

It seems that the flip side is the secret. It's not so much about doing what you love. You're very lucky if, like me, you have the opportunity to make a living out of your passions. But not everyone in life is as lucky. Think of security guards, salesladies, janitors-- all thankless jobs, it's difficult to imagine them as a child's ambition. And yet these jobs exist, and we see people who go about these jobs with a smile on their faces and a genuine care for those that they serve. The secret is that no matter what job you're in, be thankful that you have a job at all. And then, fall in love with it. There's always something good about whatever job you have, whether it's the things that you learn, the day-to-day experiences you have, the people you meet, or the kind of person you become because of it.

What a happy coincidence that for today's homily, the priest was talking about the need to be excited again about life and its blessings. His anecdotes were about how people lose their excitement over things --relationships, jobs, studies-- as time goes by, and how important it is to realize that life is not always happy. Life comes with its ups and downs, triumphs and struggles. So when you're down and struggling, it takes a lot of faith to just hang in there and find it in yourself to be excited again.

Truth be told, now that I'm nearing one year in this freelance life, it hasn't always a bed of roses. Sure, there's a rush that comes with seeing your name in a byline, but behind that byline is the stress of finding interview subjects, the difficulty of transcribing interviews, the challenge of powering through writer's block because the deadline is the next day. It's meant days of working in a digital advertising agency during the day, then going home to get more writing and editing work done when everyone else is probably resting already. It's meant weekends of working instead of lounging around. So no, it hasn't been all fun and games. But at the end of the day, I am thankful for the struggles because I know that there isn't anything else I'd rather do. And I know that each struggle will pass-- once I hit the "Send" button to submit my pieces, it's over until the next project comes along. It's faith that keeps me focused on all the good parts of this job. It's faith that keeps me going.

My final thought in the shower was that life is like a game of cards. You're not always dealt a winning hand. But if you already know that you've got a losing hand, you still have two choices on how to approach the game: with a defeatist attitude, sulking all throughout; or with a cheerful spirit, enjoying the game and deciding that you're lucky you got to play at all.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

On never being too old for first-times

Now that I've been working in digital advertising for 10 months, I've gotten a bit used to having to say goodbye to some clients and saying hello to new ones. The job has required me to research on many different industries, which is great for someone like me who just loves learning new things.

My latest account has to do with hair treatment. This is a big deal for me because *confession* I have virgin hair. Even if my suki hairstylist always asks me if I want to get my hair colored, I always just opt for a haircut. The most I've gotten is a hot oil, and that was just recently.

That is, until this account came along and our clients offered free treatments for the team. I was apprehensive, of course, but M said, "Go. There's a first time for everything."

With his encouragement and the realization that if I was going to do this, it might as well be with a very reputable brand, plus it's for free, I took a deep breath and told myself, "Okay. Let's do this."

Final selfie with my virgin hair!
Aside from wanting to say farewell to my virgin hair, I realized that it's good to take a Before photo so that you can easily compare it to your new hair! At this point, I'm excited but very scared.

I was shown different hair samples --all of which, honestly, looked the same to me-- and then I told them to consider these two things: 1) it's my first time, so please be gentle; and 2) I'm getting married in six months (!), so I want a color that's not too drastic so that it doesn't grow out too ugly. The stylists decided to ease me into it by choosing a shade of brown that they promised would give a subtle yet noticeable change. In particular, my stylist Donna told me that dark brown was actually preferable because if you have fine, thin hair like me, choosing a light shade would kind-of reflect on your scalp, making the thinness more obvious.

The color is in!
Before they brushed all the color into my hair, they had to dab a bit on the back of my ear to check if I'd have an allergic reaction to it. My ear started to itch a little, but I really think it was psychosomatic! So Donna proceeded with caution and would ask me every now and then, "Does anything itch? Are you still scared?" Thankfully, the answer to both was "No!"

It turns out that color for the roots are applied last because it absorbs color more quickly. But after around 10 minutes, Donna checked my hair then said, "Oh wow, you're ready! Let's go rinse it!" I didn't understand the big deal until she told me while she was washing my hair, "Your hair is one in a million. Usually it takes 35 minutes, but your hair absorbs color so fast, it was ready in 10." It's a good thing that she was on the watch, otherwise I would've had ultra-light roots!

New look for a new life!

So she rinsed it then blow-dried it, and I decided to take a selfie! It doesn't look like a big change, which I like because I feel like I'm really being eased into deciding if I want to go a bit lighter next time.

A big thank you to my stylist Donna!
I couldn't resist taking a photo with my stylist Donna, who really put me at ease by telling me that we have the same hair type, and she shared tips on how I could add more volume to my hair. Since it was based on her personal experience, I really felt like she knew her stuff! I'd love to go back and get my hair done by her again. It really pays to have it done by the experts and trust in their judgment and expertise!

So here's the Before and After shot, taken in the exact same spot under the same lighting conditions. The change isn't too obvious indoors, but I've been told that you can really see the brown shade in natural light.

With something just as simple as changing my hair color, I realized that you're really never too old to have a first-time for anything! :)

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

On wedding preps and the importance of counting backwards

One of the very first things I did after getting engaged was to open up an Excel spreadsheet and make a timeline.

When July rolled in, I revisited my timeline and saw the note "6 months before - fix Church requirements". So M and I decided to dedicate a day to doing just that.

The Driver and The Navigator, ready for an adventure!

Here are some of the things I learned in the process:

1. It helps to call ahead.
In today's day and age, the landline is something anyone hardly ever uses anymore. But it was super helpful in this process.

Since I was baptized in the hospital's chapel, I had to call the hospital to find out where I could claim my baptismal certificate. Then, I also had to call St. Francis of Assisi and Sta. Maria dela Strada to find out if the confirmation certificates of those confirmed in Poveda and Ateneo (respectively) could be claimed there.

By calling these Churches ahead, not only was I able to verify that our records were indeed there, but I was also to get information that would help them track down these records quickly-- when I called Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in Sta. Mesa for my baptismal certificate, the guy I spoke to gave me the exact book number, page number, and even line number where my record could be found.

After all the verification, we were ready to set our itinerary for the day. Which leads me to the second lesson.

2. Download Waze app and believe in its power to get you to places.
From old-school to modern! With my phone plugged into a car charger and armed with unlidata, we set out for Sta. Mesa, completely reliant on the directions given by Waze.

Even if both M and I drive and are knowledgeable of how to get around, Waze helped us navigate through side streets that got us from Sta. Mesa to Cubao in no time! But we arrived in Cubao only to find out that we would have to abort our mission, all because of the third lesson.

3. Learn how to count backwards properly.
As it turns out, I had only counted by month. So yes, July is six months away from January 2015. But what I failed to realize is that we're getting married on January 31, which means that six months before our wedding date is still... July 31.

It was explained to us in Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Cubao that our certificates would only be valid for six months. So if they released M's baptismal certificate to us today, it would only be valid until January 8.

4.  Take note of the parish's office hours and days off.
While in Cubao, we kept trying to call our church to ask if they were super-strict about the validity period. But no one was picking up, so we decided to abort the mission and head to Eastwood to ask in person. Only to discover that the reason why no one was picking up was because the office was closed.

Some parish offices are closed on Mondays, others on Tuesdays. Some are open as early as 7:30am, others open at 8am. Some lunch breaks are only until 1pm, others are until 2pm. When I called Sta. Maria dela Strada for M's confirmation certificate, I was told that we should drop by after lunch because the priest who would be signing the certificates would be in by then. Knowing the office hours of each church you need to visit helps you make a more efficient and realistic itinerary.

5. Always look on the bright side.
Aborting the mission left me feeling very frustrated and disappointed in myself because, really, how simple is it to count backwards?!

We visited Eastwood and I tried to get a hold of myself by praying, releasing my tears of frustration, and basically trying to focus on this image:

We'll be standing here in 207 days!

It was here, in front of the altar we would eventually stand before by next year, that I realized how truly blessed I am to be marrying M. He wouldn't tolerate my little pity-party. He said, "That's the way it is. We'll do it in August. It's nothing life-threatening; no one has died. Now if our church tells us that they've messed up our dates, that's a problem. This is nothing."

So now, I'm just thankful that we had found out about the validity issue when we had gotten just my baptismal certificate, rather than when we had gotten all four certificates already. Imagine my meltdown if we find out that ALL certificates are invalid and we have to do everything all over again! So at least it's just one potential do-over. And now we know how to get to the churches, so it'll be easier to find them when we do Church-hopping 2.0 in August!

At the end of the day, we're still getting married. Like M always likes to say, don't worry because things will always fall into place. :)